by Michael P Coleman

Superstar Jody Watley personifies the word “diva”…but not in any of the more negative ways in which we’ve come to associate the word.  I spoke with her for the first time earlier this year, as she prepared for a series of concerts with her group, Shalamar Reloaded, which she founded last year with Nate Allen Smith and Rosero McCoy.  I was delighted to find her open, accessible, friendly, very funny, and extremely positive about moving forward. 

jodywatleydisco300I had to ask Watley about some of the controversy I’d been reading about regarding the prospect of her reuniting with two of her former Shalamar bandmates, Howard Hewitt and Jeffrey Daniel.  Together, the three of them released some of the greatest R & B classics ever recorded, remarkably over the span of just four years.  After Watley left the group in 1983, she took a brief pause before launching her solo career with her defiant, Grammy winning “Looking For A New Love.”  After her smash self-titled debut solo album, Watley hasn’t looked back…

…but many of her fans have.  Incessantly.  They repeatedly have clamored for a reunion with Hewitt and Daniel, and often fans — along with her former bandmates — blamed Watley for the reunion never taking place.  Earlier this year, Watley told me that while she has remained cordial with Hewitt and Daniel, and that she occasionally looks back at her early years with Shalamar, she wasn’t interested in revisiting it. 

“I’m always stepping out of my own shoes,” Watley reflected, “and I try not to get tangled up in my own history.  That’s what keeps it fresh for me.” 

“When people say they want a reunion, they’re really saying they want to relive a moment in their own lives,” the legend continued.  "They’re not really thinking about anything else.  They want to go back in the Wayback Machine, and I think that’s so uninspired and boring.  Shalamar Reloaded is not trying to erase or compete with the past.  I wanted to create a new group, and that’s what I’ve done with Nate and Rosero.” 

by Michael P Coleman

Some of my fondest memories of my eldest daughter growing up are the times we shared with Harry Potter.  And it wasn’t just Harry:  Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Draco, Snape, and of course Volde…oops…HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED were all a part of a wonderful shared reading experience between the two of us. 

IMG 5815JK Rowling’s wizard world created a publishing phenomenon that we hadn’t seen in generations.  Pre-orders for the novels broke records worldwide.  I remember one day at the airport, waiting for a connection, and noticing almost everyone at my gate was reading a copy of the almost 900 page Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  People lined up by the thousands at bookstores to count down to a midnight release of each novel.  Many of those fans dressed up as their favorite characters for the events, and I will admit to attending one or two of them myself.  (No, I didn’t dress up…but I wanted to.) 

My daughter’s all grown up now (sniff), but I felt a tinge of excitement last spring when I read that an eighth tale in the series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was on the way.  I wondered whether the fervor would continue, almost 10 years after the publication of the last novel.  Also, this 8th installment was to be a “script book”, not a traditional novel, and while based on a story by Rowling, it wouldn’t be written by her.  I wondered whether kids (of all ages) would still have a hunger for Harry. 

I hadn’t pre-ordered a copy, but as last Saturday’s sun set, I could resist heading over to Barnes & Noble at Arden Fair in Sacramento.  Simply put, the store was a glorious, packed to the gills madhouse.  I’d say Harry’s back, but I’m not sure he ever left.  Literally hundreds of people — of all ages — were in the store two hours before the book went on sale, and dozens of others joined us before midnight when an announcement was made and a riotous cheer erupted throughout the store.  Literally. 

Barnes & Noble manager Erik Stevens said he wasn’t surprised by the level of excitement about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

“This crowd is very similar in size to our last midnight release event,” Stevens told me.  “That said, this title set pre-order records for us.  We’ve ordered additional copies, so tonight, everyone will get a book.”

IMG 5803That was great news for me, as I stood there with my little yellow numbered ticket, which gave me a place in line after the hundreds of red ticket-holders who’d preorder the book. 

While I waited, I wondered what was behind the enduring appeal of these characters. 

“There’s a lot of heart in these stories,” Stevens continued.  “Some of these young parents were kids who read the books as they were growing up.  And many of these parents read the books themselves to their kids years ago.  One customer told me that for her, the memories of these release parties is a part of her association with the stories, so she wanted to recapture a little of that excitement at tonight’s event.”

That customer was in the right place Saturday night.  Barnes & Noble hosted Harry Potter trivia games and other events during the evening, and there were Harrys, Snapes, Hermiones, and a Volde…a HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED or two in the crowd.  In case customers had left their costumes behind, an assortment of wands and even a Sorting Hat was on sale! 

While Jacynth Bucknor from New York wasn’t in costume for the event, she was waiting as anxiously as the rest of us for the clock to strike midnight.   The vacationing mom was picking up the book for her 18 year old son. 

“He’s been reading Harry Potter books for a long time,” Bucknor remembered.  “He started reading at about six or seven.  When he started reading the first one, I picked it up because I wanted to know what he was reading, and I really liked it.  I loved Rowling’s creativity.  She grabs your attention, and makes you want to read more.”

If you’ve got the hankering to read more, you’ll be in good company with the millions who’ve picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child since its release last weekend.  Over two million copies were sold during the first 48 hours after its release, and the book’s on track to be the best seller of 2016, so it’s safe to call it another blockbuster.  The stage production is playing to a sold out house in London well into 2017, and Rowling hopes to bring it to other countries worldwide. 

IMG 5809I’ll wrap up reading the new book this weekend, and without giving anything away, I’ll say that, for me, the magic’s back.  Set about twenty years after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it’s great to see Harry, Hermione and Ron raising their kids, who more than continue the traditional of magical mischief.  And I’ll also say that, you know, if Harry’s there, Volde…HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED can’t be far behind. 

Also, if you’re a fan, this may really be our last shot at Harry.  Rowling has said that with Cursed Child, Harry’s story is finished. 

So grab a book, settle into your favorite chair, and take another trip to Hogwarts! 

Pick up a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Barnes & Noble or retail everywhere. 

 

This blog was written by freelance writer Michael P Coleman.  What he DIDN’T tell you was he bought a replica of Harry Potter’s wand, complete with illuminating tip, at Barnes & Noble, and he’s used the “Lumos!” spell every night this week in his living room.  Swear to God.  Follow him on Twitter — and pray for him.  

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I wear my hair in a natural style called Sisterlocks. The style affords me great flexibility with my natural hair.  It has also grown to be quite long. For a black woman this garners me a lot of attention. I have been stopped countless times by men and women who were astounded that as a black woman I have been able to grow my natural tresses below my mid back.

Most often I am asked is all of that my real hair. The looks I receive are ones of astonishment and awe. With joy I share a resounding YES! This is all MY hair! Recently I was stopped at the gym by an elderly black woman with the same questions and with the same look of admiration and astonishment. I began to explore within myself her looks of astonishment, awe and admiration along with my own sense of joy. After all, it’s just hair. Or is it?

For many black women the decision to wear our hair natural versus processed has been a real struggle.  Our own natural coifs if not of a certain texture deemed to be “good” were not seen as a thing of beauty. For many our hair was a source of shame. The heart of the shame was the belief that we were inferior. Our hair diminished our value. If we couldn’t grow long silky or loosely coiled hair then we were not as valuable as other women, black or otherwise, that could. I as a woman with very tightly coiled kinks would have been labeled and categorized as having nappy or “bad” hair.

For the complete article, visit HuffingtonPost.com/Blog/Voices.

Anitra Rice can be followed on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Valueawakenings

Reach out to her on her website: www.valueawakenings.com

ali eblast

by Michael P Coleman

I am having trouble conveying my sadness at the passing of Muhammad Ali.  I've lost so many that were a part of my childhood.  Walter Cronkite.  (Yeah, I was THAT kid.). Michael Jackson.  Christopher Reeve.  And just a few weeks ago, Prince.  But a week ago, when a notification popped up on my iPhone trumpeting Ali's death at 74, I froze.  I literally could not move.  I was uncharacteristically speechless.

It took me a few days to figure out why. 

Ali didn't just call himself The Greatest.  He was the greatest boxer we've known.  For this 70s kid, he was a modern day Joe Louis who had battled the ghosts of a challenging childhood on his way to winning the heavyweight champ title in 1964.   

ali articlecontentAt the height of his popularity, Ali opposed our country's involvement in the Vietnam War, and paid for his defiance with his championship belt and his livelihood, being barred from fighting for three years.  As he supported himself via speaking engagements at college campuses, popular opinion over Vietnam caught up with him, and over time vehemence levied his way subsided. 

Then, Ali did what was then perceived as impossible.  Past his prime as a professional boxer, he fought his way back into the ring, regaining his heavyweight champ title and, ultimately, our nation's heart. 

Muhammad Ali was one of my earliest childhood heroes.  More than a boxer, he was a sepia Superman who, I dreamed, was the one person alive who could have helped me battle my own childhood demons, including an alcoholic, abusive father.  After my drunken dad broke the skin on my behind with an extension cord, or turned his fist from me to my mother, I imagined -- I KNEW -- that Ali could have stopped him.  As an adolescent, I drew on Ali's inspiration as I stood up to my dad, toe to toe and fist to fist.  To my knowledge, he never tried to fight my mom again. 

As much as I admired Ali as a boxer, I joined the world in being enthralled by his bravado.  Simply put, Ali ALWAYS talked shit.  Big shit.  He wasn't just the greatest fighter, he told us:  he was also pretty!  As a young kid, I copied that persona, first talking myself out of the negative messages that I'd begun to internalize, then taking that bravado to school with me.   I later learned that Ali was self-conscious as well, and that his bravado was his method for talking himself into the victories he sought in the ring.  In some ways, I still employ that technique, when I'm facing a challenge and begin to doubt myself.

Ali inspired me once more as I watched him battle Parkinson's with grace and dignity.  I hope I can do the same, when my physical body begins to succumb to time and usage. 

So I am sad that this man, this legend, is gone.  I just watched another hero of mine, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, share his own memories of Ali, and I'm preparing to watch Ali’s funeral online.  When I call on the ancestors, as I often do when facing a challenge, Ali will absolutely be one of them.

Thank you, Muhammad Ali, and by all means, rest in peace.

FullSizeRenderThis article was written by Sacramento-based freelance writer Michael P Coleman. 

Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

Janet Jackson shocked the world when she recently announced, days before her 50th birthday, that she was expecting her first child. (She steered clear of using the word “pregnant”, and with her penchant for secrecy and media deception, I’m skeptical…but I digress…).

Whether Miss-Jackson-If-You’re-Nasty is pregnant or not, a woman in India, Dajinder Kaur, has trumped her by giving birth to her son, Aman Singh.

The new, first-time mom puts her age at about 70, but the clinic where she gave birth released a statement that says she’s 72.

What’s a couple of years? At the sprightly young age of 70-something, Kaur has become a first time mom with her husband of 46 years, 79-year-old Mohinder Singh.

You’ll be as shocked as I was to learn that the gushing new parents conceived little Arman via in-vitro fertilization. They decided to go through fertility treatment over a year ago.

Well into their 70s, they’d better be praising God that their in-vitro pregnancy didn’t yield multiple births, as they often do. They’re going to have a hard enough time chasing after ONE kid, at their age!

Nonetheless, one can’t help but be happy for the couple, who finally got what they wanted after many years of wishing and praying.

“I feel blessed to be able to hold my own baby,” Kaur said. “I had lost hope of becoming a mother ever. There was so much loneliness. I used to feel empty.”

I don’t usually speak for mothers. I have one and was married to another, but by no means am I an expert on mothering. But I think that all mothers would agree that Kaur will be replacing emptiness with exhaustion!

Doctors initially told Kaur that she was too old to conceive, in-vitro or not. Relatives suggested that the cost of the treatment — close to $15,000 — would be better spent adopting one of the many children worldwide who are in need of loving parents.

Faur was not interested.

“I never wanted to adopt a child as I was unsure if I would be able to love it like my own, hence I was keen to give birth to a baby myself,” she said.

At press time, Kaur is breastfeeding her newborn, and plans to do so for as long as possible.

Breastfeeding at 70-something? Sweet little Arman is being fed powdered milk.

As happy as Kaur is, one has to wonder whether she and her husband plan to have another child, and give little Arman a sibling.

“I think I’d die if I try for another kid and wouldn’t be able to enjoy my precious Arman,” she said.

I think Kaur may die anyway before little Arman grows up. 70-something and having her first kid?? Really??? I had both of mine in my 20s, and can’t imagine keeping up with one even now, let alone when I’m in my 70s.

Kaur will be pushing 80, and his dad will be well into his 80s, before Arman starts school. I don’t think that’s fair to the kid. My girls talk about me teaching them to catch a football and ride a bike, playing on the jungle gym with them at the playground, and riding amusement park rides with them. They don’t have memories of pushing me to the park in a wheelchair.

Nonetheless, I wish the happy new parents many, many days and weeks with Arman. And I hope to interview Arman one day, when I’m in my 70s, to hear HIS side of this story!

 

http://www.eurthisnthat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/MPCBatman2015.jpgThis blog was written by freelance writer Michael P Coleman, who became a first-time father at 21 years old.  As challenging as that was, he’s thankful to be decades away from his 70s with adult children.  

Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

http://www.eurthisnthat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Shonda-Rhimes-Year-of-Yes.jpg

You’re probably familiar with the name Shonda Rhimes. If not, you’re familiar with THESE names: Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How To Get Away With Murder. Those television shows are three of Rhimes’ babies, and thanks to them, she owns network TV’s Thursday nights like they haven’t been owned since the Huxtables were around.

If you’re a Shondaland fan, you’ll like her new book, Year of Yes. It’s basically a trip through the tackling of a few of the writer’s own demons, including (very surprisingly) crippling self-doubt and insecurity. Rhimes says she found herself habitually saying “no” to anything that scared her or was outside of her comfort zone, which included all public speaking engagements.

After receiving challenges of sorts from her sisters — who are hysterically candid with her, according to the book — Rhimes embarked on her “year of yes”, agreeing to agree to every opportunity that came her way.

Year Of Yes is undoubtedly making an impact. Scandal star Kerry Washington recently referred to it as required reading. That’s a bit like Jesus saying the bible is required reading, but it’s significant, nonetheless. And speaking of Jesus, at least one church was inspired to embark upon its own “year of yes” this year, after the pastor read the book.

I said if you’re a fan of Rhimes’ dramas, you’ll LIKE the book — but you may not love it. Rhimes’ writing style mirrors the repetitive speech patterns of her beloved characters. Those patterns are always entertaining and are most often hilarious during our favorite dramas. However, on the printed page, without the likes of actors like Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, and Ellen Pompeo to breathe life into them, those patterns can be static.

I read Year Of Yes during a flight recently, and at one point, I could have almost jumped out of the plane sans parachute so that I could avoid one…more…word. One more word! I’d have done almost anything I could to avoid one more word. One more!

http://www.eurthisnthat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/n-ELLEN-POMPEO-KERRY-WASHINGTON-VIOLA-DAVIS-628x314.jpgI’m glad I talked myself off of the virtual ledge, as those maddening passages in Year Of Yes are relatively few, and the book was worth the time I spent sharing Rhimes’ journey from self-doubt through acceptance to self-love. But more than anything, Rhimes’ book is a testament to the acting genius of Davis, Washington, Pompeo and the rest of Shondaland’s exemplary team of Thespians. Without their exceptional gifts, Rhimes’ words just don’t sing.

That said, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Year Of Yes and taking Rhimes’ journey of self-discovery with her. If you’re a Shondaland fan, the book is practically screaming out to you: pick me, choose me, love me…BUY me!

Shonda Rhimes’ Year Of Yes is available at retail and digital outlets everywhere.

http://www.eurthisnthat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/MPCBatman2015.jpgMichael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer whose penis will never be on a dead girl’s phone.

However, he really wants you to be his person.

Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP

 

 

 

 

49430*Who doesn’t know the name Rosa Parks? Her name is arguably the most famous in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. And with what Ms. Parks has often stated was an uninvited wealth of fame, saying she simply did what she did because she was tired (I met her and these words came from her lips) comes a lot of opportunity for her image to be used and misused in commercial fashion.

I recently learned that retail giant Target had attempted to commission a series of Rosa Parks inspired items including books, movies and plaques, to commemorate her life.

But what may appear as an act of honorable homage being paid to this historical figure by some, may look like something else to others.

For the complete story, visit http://www.eurthisnthat.com/2016/02/10/target-wins-lawsuit-filed-by-rosa-and-raymond-parks-institute/

by  Michael P. Coleman

nadkins single pack feature male refresher towelettes 121515 grande*Just like when you go to your favorite porn site (don’t judge me), let’s clear the kids out of the room and cut right to the chase: there is NOTHING more uncomfortable for the bruthas than an itchy, sweaty sack.

So for our collective relief, I present to you: Nadkins, “male jewels refresher towelettes.”

According to the company’s website, “a lot of thought and care went into the creation of Nadkins.”

I would hope so.

“After all,” the site continues, “this isn’t designed for any old part of the body.”

No shit. Kunta Kinte even opted to have a foot cut off to save his balls. As much as I love my feet (I said don’t judge me!), I’d have been hobbled, too.